It was all uncertainty and the numbers game as Parliamentarians met to discuss the E-Levy Bill in the House on January 28, 2022. Further disagreements characterized the session between the Majority and the Minority on the passage of the E-Levy with each side maintaining entrenched positions.
The debate on the controversial Electronic Transfer ‘E-levy Bill’ has therefore been rescheduled for next Tuesday, February 1, 2022.
At the sitting, there was controversy as to whether the Bill should be taken or not.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu indicated that there was an ongoing consultation on the Bill and if it was concluded the Bill could be taken.
The Minority side however disagreed and argued that there was an agreement for the Bill to be taken next week rather. After the back and forth, the Majority Leader moved for the adjournment of the House which was accordingly adjourned to next week.
GBC’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Bubu Klinogo reports that the day’s sitting was delayed for seven hours as sitting which was to commence at 10 am, eventually started at 5pm, by which time the Speaker, Alban Bagbin had left, leaving first Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu to preside.
The day started with an engagement between the Minister for Finance Ken Ofori Atta, and the Minority Leadership on the Electronic Transfer Levy.
At the closed-door meeting, the Finance Minister proposed a 0.25 % reduction in the levy, bringing it down from 1.75 % to 1.5%.
This was however rejected by the Minority, who insisted on the total scrapping of the levy. As a result, the meeting ended inconclusively.
Sitting at Plenary:
For some unexplained reasons, sitting at the plenary was delayed. It was not until after 5pm that sitting eventually began. The sitting was initially scheduled to begin at 10pm but was later pushed to 2pm in view of the engagement between the minister and the minority.
By 2.30 pm, the Speaker, Alban Bagbin had moved to the lobby waiting for direction from the leadership to commence sitting. After about two and a half hours, the speaker eventually left.
Joe Wise presides:
Shortly thereafter, the first Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu walked into the chamber and took the chair for the commencement of the day’s proceedings. Whiles presenting the business statement for next week, the majority leader gave indications that there was still an ongoing consultation on the E levy Bill and if concluded, the Bill could be taken.
After about an hour, the majority leader indicated that the consultation had ended and the e. levy bill should be taken. This elicited some disagreement from the Minority leadership. After the back and forth, the Minority gave in, but, on the condition that when the debate started, it should be concluded and the vote taken immediately after the debate.
Surprisingly, the Majority Leader made a U-turn and moved for the adjournment of the House to Next Week Tuesday. After the adjournment, both sides addressed the media.
Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutsey Avedzi, said the Majority side simply did not have the numbers and were certainly going to lose the vote on the motion, hence the move for the adjournment.
”I think they’ve sensed some danger that is why they’ve changed the provision to Tuesday. It is known that at least one of them which is a known face, Adjoa Sarfo is not available and so if you take one from the 138 definitely it’s left 137. So if we also have our 137 it means that there’s going to be a tie in the voting and the constitution article 104 it means that the motion is lost and that is the end unless they reintroduce it so that is what they’re trying to avoid”, he stated.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Alex Afenyo-Markin says the government will use the weekend to hold further consultations with the relevant stakeholders in order to get their support. That, he said, will ensure that the Bill is passed next week without much difficulty.
”All I can say is that discussions so far have been positive, but inconclusive, I do not want to respond to political punchlines since seem may have the potential deviling all the positive steps so far and in such a situation it becomes very difficult to bought consensus what you can achieve is to get their corporation in disagreement”.
”Whether we will be able to achieve consensus or be able to respect their position to disagree with us but corporate within the remit of the process, next week God willing ones we have life we will be able to determine”.
Pressure Group picketing:
Pressure group, Justice for Ghana which has picketed Parliament for the past three days has served notice they will return next week Tuesday to pile pressure on the MPs not to pass the Bill.
Selorm Dramani Dzramado, who is one of the leaders of the group, said the team will be back next week to picket.
”We have already written to the IGP… we will be back”, he asserts.
Speaker off for Medical Review:
Meanwhile, the Speaker is expected to travel outside the country this weekend for a medical review. Reports suggest that the Speaker could be away for up to about a month. The Minority side has advised the Majority to hold on with the Bill until the Speaker returns.
This, they argue, is to ensure that the Speaker himself presides over the sitting to forestall a recurrence of last year’s unfortunate happenings in Parliament.